"They love your books but they hate success."

American novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) has arrived in Rome to promote his new crime thriller, "Tenebre" (the title translates as "Darkness"). Unfortunately, he is distressed to discover that someone has been killing women in the same manner as in his book. After each murder, Peter receives a cryptic note and a threatening phone call and as the killer gets closer, Peter must use his wits to unravel a mystery that has sprung from the pages of his own book. Could it be his agent, Bullmer (John Saxon)? The angry critic, Tilde (Mirella D'Angelo), or did his slightly unhinged ex, Jane (Veronica Lario) follow him to Rome?

After re-inventing the giallo with The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and then re-inventing it again with Susperia, Tenebre marks Dario Argento's return to classic giallo form, albeit with his own signature flourishes and unique visual style. I appreciate the touches of humor that Argento places judiciously throughout, like Bullmer's recurring vanity about his hat and ditzy Detective Altieri (Carola Stagnaro), who is this movie's Gracie Allen. I also love the fantastic score by electro-rock band Goblin.

  • Lamberto Bava (son of giallo pioneer Mario Bava) was Assistant Director on this film.
  • I feel like Dario Argento was responding to his critics by having a reviewer slam Peter's book for being sexist and violent towards women... and then brutally killing her off.
  • I met John Saxon once at a horror movie convention. He's a really nice guy.
  • Argento is often inspired by his own life, and Tenebre was reportedly conceived after an incident with a stalker.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

Who drops his bag at an airport to walk 20 feet away for a phone call? Why would you do that? And for that matter, who rides his bike down the middle of the highway to the airport? Before a trans-continental flight? He must have stunk up the whole cabin.

I love how the police draw their guns and just wave them around indiscriminately while chasing a suspect. They're like kids playing cops and robbers.

Fashion Moment

Pastels were big in '82.

Also, Peter's rented house. Is. Amazing.